Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Life in Italy - Day 1737 (2019) At Church with my friend Francesca!

Domenica 3 November 2019

I took a morning walk in Testaccio, where locals actually live (Via Luca a Robbia). Again I heard locals talking “Cinque minuti fa faceva caldo, mi fa fresco!” Five minutes ago it was hot, now it’s chilly!!! 
Every time a holiday happens on the Friday or Monday, the call it a ponte (bridge) because it makes a three day weekend instead of a two day one. Italians LOVE THIS and make the most of it every time. There is a festive atmosphere all three days. 
I got a cappuccino of organic beans from tHe coffeeshop called 100%Bio and then got the most delicious pancakes in Rome from Marigold made with sourdough and Kiefer butter!! There, I saw couple I had also seen at Trattoria Pennestri yesterday, so I introduced myself. They are New Yorkers with a sister whose lived in Rome for 20 years. God allowed me to share the power of Jesus to heal emotional wounds with them as they asked where I had worked before moving here. 
Then I got a SECOND cappuccino of LoRe coffee beans at Mizzica, the Sicilian coffeeshop near church. 
I invited my best friend in Rome to church with me again. So I met up with her Francesca, there. The pastor taught from Mark 7 on Paradigms and judgment calls. Sometimes we are so attached to form and tradition that we lose the MEANING of a thing. Jesus doesn’t call us to tradition; He calls us to transformation. Traditions are beautiful and of value. They give us a sense of belonging and identify a culture. Jesus reproved, however, the use of peripheral things as an excuse to not obeyGod’s commands. This shows who is not really WITH God with their hearts - instead of engaging their hearts and connecting with God in the sincere place of the soul, they impose strict rules upon themselves to have an appearance of godliness without really having a relationship with Him. When you are in a love relationship with a God, His commands are not burdensome! What’s really burdensome is to have to maintain appearances and to carry around a heart that’s never been transformed! Hypocrisy used God’s name as a right to look down on others with arrogance and to not develop community with the people around you. Who is in a good relationship with God cares about the people around them to the point of making sacrifices for others. Who is in a good place with God, isolates themselves from other people. The solution to this is not to make adjustments or try to fix ourselves, because we cannot do it alone. The solution is to say “Jesus I need you!!” To not try to hide your deficiencies or make excuses for them. Rather, the greatness of a Christian is equal to the greatness of His repentance and the measure of how hard He GRIPS to the Lord!!! Dal Marco 7 riguarda Paradigmi e giudizi. A volte siamo talmente attaccati a la forma che perdiamo il senso delle cose. Gesù non ci chiama alla tradizione; ci chiama alla trasformazione! Le tradizioni sono belle e cennano un’appartenenza ad una cultura. Gesù rimproverò quelli che usavano le cose periferiche per tralasciare il comandamento di Dio. Con il cuore non ci stanno perciò inventano scuse per non obedire a Dio, anche imponendosi delle regole dure per evitare Dio. Per dimostrare il loro rettitudine per evitare obedire a Gesù. Però quando ami Dio, i suoi comandamenti non sono pesanti. Ciò che è pesante sono le tradizione e dover mantenere l’apparenza. Il cuore non trasformato è pesante. Ipocrisia usa il nome di Dio per avere diritto di guardare dall’alto in basso agli altri O non relazionarsi bene con il nostro prossimo. Chi sta bene con Dio si sacrifica per gli altri. Chi no, si isola dagli altri. La soluzione non è una tecnica o delle aggiustatine. Non ce la facciamo da soli. Dire “GESÙ ho bisogno di TE!!!!” Non faccio scuse & non provo a nasconderlo. Gesù ci incontra e ci dà nuovi cuori. La grandezza del Cristiano è la grandezza del suo ravvedimento che si aggrappa alla grazia di Dio. In questo sistema nel mondo di mantenere apparenze per MERITARE AMORE, ci può terrorizzare sapere quanto siamo peccatori. Ma Gesù ci vuole così come siamo. 
I took my friend Francesca to one of my favorite restaurants in the Monti neighborhood of ROME. It is called Broccoletti and the staff named Fabrizio and Flavia the waitress are amazingly kind. They remember your name and treat you with warmth. We ate a delicious pasta of puréed garbanzo beans and anchovies, followed by Danish steak and a class of red wine from Olevano Romano! So good and pleasurable. My friend and I did a research on the population of Manhattan versus Rome. 1,6 milione in Manhattan 2,8 milioni in Rome.
Densità della popolazione di Manhattan 28,153 abitanti per km2 A Roma 2,214 abitanti km2.
My friend talked to me about her current studies. 
Facoltà di Economia è fatta questo indirizzi: economia aziendale, economia bancaria, economia politica (che fa Francesca), relazioni internazionali. 
Ci sono concorsi per i dipolmati, e concorsi per i laureati. (My friend Francesca is getting her college degree in Economics. She explains here that in Italy there are at least four branches of economics that you have to choose from: business economics, banking economics, political economics and international relationship. She is now participating, however, in a competition that has nothing to do with her degree. It is an exam open for anyone with a diploma for a job in public museums. She said hundreds of thousands in Italy are taking the same competitive exam to vie for the few posts available because everyone knows that if you get a job for the state, you will have fixed income for life! 209,000 richieste per 1,000 posti di lavoro. 33% dal Lazio 43% dalla Campagnia (there are 209,000 requests for these mere 1,000 job positions. 33% of the participants come from the region of Lazio, 43 % come from the region of the Campania and the rest from all the other 19 regions of Italy!!) 
Work was scarse. We are not doing well with regards o having enough customers. I served a family from Ohio with an adorable baby with whom I had the sheer joy to interact! I served two girls who have the same father and two different mothers who came on this vacation to bond. It was great serving them!! I served a kind-hearted couple from Salem Oregan, a couple from Como Italy (!), two Germans who hardly spoke English so I had to try hard to understand what they desire to eat, 2 wonderful couples from Russia, and a lovely man from Marseille France who has an Italian speaking wife. They were cool! Then, a group of 4 came in who are Christians from Argentina! They were all about prayer, singing and encouraging me to attend the worship services in Rome with a Catholic group called Hawkins Group Music. One can also search Instagram Behakuna to find them! 

Life in Italy- Day 1736 (2019) Fantastic Duck at Trattoria Pennestri!!

Sabato 2 Novembre 2019



Slept only 6.5 hours, unlike the lovely 8 yesterday. Today is Giorno dei Morti day in Italy when Italians put flowers on the graves of their loved ones. 
I went to get coffee at Roscioli, the best ever and Daniele, the barista, is only 22 years old. The workers here are all so young and are nevertheless extremely skilled at dishing out a perfect cup coffee to hundreds if not thousands of adults who need that moment to be perfect! 
Close by is Campo de’ Fiori, the public square dedicated to an extensive outdoor market of fruit, vegetables, and flowers! This is my third time here in a week just to admire the Health and variety of this high quality produce. That which looks to have the best of all is the tent called OrtoFrutto by Massimo and Cristina Leonardo. I talked to them and got their contact info. This piazza is such great fun because you hear the Romanesco dialect, telling and hollering their sentences about who had carrots, pass me the oranges, mom’s telling their kids don’t get my clothes dirty, etc! Lively and humorous!!! I really like the Roman dialect. 
I found myself in Via Garibaldi at exactly noon which is the absolute BEST street to be in if you want to hear noon bells. Because four different churches burst with ringing in different bells tones based on the age and type of the bell. GORGEOUS.
I went to Trattoria Pennestri where it is a guarantee you will eat well!!!! Every single thing they make is amazing!!!! I had something called nervetti with marinated red onions, cherry tomatoes and EEL. That’s right, eel. Then I ate coratella (lungs and liver in lemon and ricotta cheese). I feel my body appreciating this, as it contains selenium and many other things we need. Then the chef was so kind to make something for me that is no longer on the menu because I never got it when it was on the menu: duck!!!! It was Exquisite!!! Succulent! Crunchy on the outside, perfectly medium rare on the inside with grilled grapes (!) and onions. The perfect trio of ingredients, mamma Mia! They are searching waitresses and hinted I come to them. Tempting because where I work now, I make 100 euro per night in tip which is double what my two coworkers make combined. Since in Italy it is required that all waiters and waitresses pool and evenly divide all tips made, it is not fair for me. I end up bringing only one third of my tips home each night. Either the two of them consistently don’t make good tips, or someone’s stealing from the tips jar. 
At work, I got to testify about the reality of God who speaks today to a couple from Texas when I explained how God confirmed to me with three people what He has already told me about when to leave the old job to make a move. They were on their 43 anniversary and we celebrated it for them! I served three Greek girls, a fun family of 5 from Milan, a wonderful family of three from Hungary who had a real sweet presence about them, a family from Toronto with whom I had nice conversation, a couple from California, three professional dancers from India here to perform, a mother daughter duo who spent a week in Naples doing cooking classes with Epitourian Edible Destinations, a sweet couple from England having a birthday, a wonderful couple from Orleans France celebrating a birthday with whom I loved conversing in France, and two hilarious gay couples from Genova, Naples and Milan who said they will come back to visit me in the future!!! 
After work I had a great time talking to people I know in the street: Maria Grazia, with whom I went to an art museum last week, Ida the Jewish girl who works at the restaurant directly in front of ours, and Rosalba the seamstress who does embroidered art next door to us. It’s uplifting to have these chit chats. 

Life in Italy - Day 1735 (2019) The Jewish Ghetto on All Saint’s Day

Venerdì 1 Novembre 2019




Today is All Saint’s Day and the city is FULL of people celebrating the holiday. 
Saint Alessio and Bonifacio church atop the Aventine Hill. There are at lest two churches on this high hill that were built in medieval times and a view of Saint Peter’s dome our in the distance as it rises above all the other rooftops. 
Then I descended the hill and entered into the Jewish ghetto which was jam packed with people. The whole atmosphere was lively and wonderfully positive, like one big family eating Sunday lunch together - hundreds of people sitting in the street called Via Portico D’Ottavia under big white umbrellas! The clinging of forks on plates and the murmur of chitter chatter was a pleasant sound to hear. 
Then I got my morning coffee from Daniele at Roscioli and met the cashier. When I mentioned how bustling the Jewish neighborhood is today she said “I’m Jewish!!” with joy! She told me she is only 18 years old and just spent three years of high school in Israel in a boarding school because she wanted time away from her parents, ahaha! She said she feels she gained much more maturity than her peers from this experience abroad. It was lovely talking to her. 
I walked down Via del Pellegrino (street of the Pilgrim) and noticed three fantastic places: a fashion boutique store called Officina Res full of gorgeous clothing, a fancy bar called Riserva and a coffee shop that also makes pizza called Panificio Monteforte with black and white checkerboard floors and small round marble tables like in Paris. I turned in Piazza Ricci which houses Palazzo Ricci, a building whose facade is covered in beautiful frescos. I am telling you Rome an open sky museum!! 
This week I have been watching scenes from the Italian film called Acqua e Sapone by Carlo Verdone. Every scene makes you erupt with laughter. Carlo, in his career, has impersonated over 46 characters and is of excellent skill in imitation and embodiment of what he observes. 
Jesus helped the female coworker and I to have amazing interactions during the shift. I told her she is precious and explained this means of inestimable value. 
I served a Jewish mom who seemed so cool to hang out with, humorous in her exasperation with her two red haired children who were cute but totally out of control because the mother does not tell them “no.” She lets them command. Yikes!  I served a lone traveler girl from Trapani Sicily, a mother daughter from North France near Monte Michel, a nice couple from Philadelphia trying hard not to look like tourists, the Germany family who returned (the one with a stressed out daughter who has to translate everything for them), a couple from Baltimore with a gorgeous baby named Owen who smiled at me continually and I loved interacting with him!! I served a sweet family of 4 from Milan, a Russian couple who speaks Italian (wow!), snobs from Calabria who looked at me judgingly. The brother noticed and over compensated with kindness! 😂 

Life in Italy - Day 1734 (2019) Night out At Valentyne

Giovedì 31 Ottobre 2019


This morning the sound of a spoon hitting a plate in the kitchen woke me up. See what I have to deal with regarding acute hearing??!! 
So I got up and walked to Roscioli where Daniele, the friendly and smiley barista gave me the best “cappuccino scuro.” This term means more coffee than in a regular cappuccino but the same amount of milk. Italians are so specific in their coffee requests: “caffè al vetro, caffè macchiato al vetro, caffè doppio bolente in tazza grande.” It’s a moment in the day in which their very specific and precise preferences can be coddled. They were playing amazing music on there by the Homeshake band. Doris, the barista also searches Spotify for the style of Homeshake band. She also recommends Monopoly Child Star Searchers (music). 
Then I got a second caffè at 100% Bio of the beans called Salomoni Organic beans from 1959. I am exaggerating so much since the 40 day fast. I am basically on an all carb all gelato diet and it’s simply amazing. A far cry from the organic herbs, steamed and fermented veggies and collagen-filled bone broth lifestyle I aimed to live ahahaah! But I have always had the weakness in my character of all-or-nothing and only God can fix me! 
I am so happy that the female colleague is gone for three days. I am working in her place and the atmosphere is so much lighter, peaceful and without any stress with her gone! The book I am reading on the five wounds describes her behavior perfectly on the chapter entitled “tradimento”, those who have suffered infidelity, broken promises and had their expectations let down. It is remarkable how precise it is! My main wound and corresponding reactions to it (as she calls a mask) was the injustice wound. 
Anyway, then I went to work and it was amazing! The owner came in, sat down for his dinner and I said “you are tempting me with those mushrooms!!!” So he invited me to eat a plate with him of very very expensive ovuli mushrooms with rocket lettuce and long shavings of fresh parmesan cheese.  The manager said “Oh mangi con il Capo tu?” (Oh, you eat with the big boss, eh?” with a bitter and jealous tone. But it was the nicest time with the owner. He has a very generous heart. We laughed a lot and talked about theater and how much it bores him, how many kids he’s had, his first wife and his second wife and all this led to a talk about meaning in life and if we are here only to be fulfilled in the present material life by investing in family and kids or if there is an eternal purpose. I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him and how being justified in God’s sight is a free gift that comes by accepting Jesus’ propitiate blood sacrifice for us, which depends not on our merit rather on Jesus’ sinless life. This is the second time God provides opportunity for me to share the gospel with him and he maintains that he currently has no faith and sees no eternal purpose and gets blocked when he thinks of why God would physically heal some people and not all, help some people and not all. I explained God helped everyone with the death and resurrection of Christ and that God knows better than we about what we need: sometimes it is physical healing, sometimes spiritual healing. He cannot, at this point, accept this. 
God also gave me the opportunity to share Jesus’ justifying power and cleansing from sin with two Jewish girls from Israel and they were so kind and engaged. 
I served a couple from Naples, a family of 6 from Paris France who were surprised I was speaking French but I could also tell they were laughing inside at my accent!! I served a German family of three whose daughter was completely stressing out to have to try and translate the menu in German!!! I served a fantastic mixed race couple English and Asian whose two children were absolutely adorable. I served a mother daughter duo from Paris with whom I had a really great rapport, a nice couple from North of Normandy France, a couple who were so fun and kind and talkative (in FRENCH!) from the southern most part of France near the border of Spain. I could have spent hours with them. Then, I served three fantastic men from Val D’Aosta and Piedimonte Italia who were jokesters and one of them a musician. Lastly, I served two tables from Austria very refined and girls from Greece! 
My friend Sandro and I dressed up and went to a club called Valentyne where a bodyguard out front decides who gets in. There was soft jazz being played by a guitarist, a bassist, and a blond singer. Sole of the times they played were Oh When The Saints, Hit the Road Jack, Sweet Dreams Are Made of These, These Boots Are Made Walking, Guilty Feet Ain’t Got No Rhythm, Maniac, Billy Jean among many. The ambience is classy: Gold vases, containing long white fluffy feathers, gold leaf cut into the white tile walks, mirrors lining all the walls, and chairs in velvet! The bathrooms are no less gorgeous: gold faucets, gold handle to flush the toilet and lots of mirrors. 
I walked home in the pouring rain in my suede heels. Ouch! ROME was empty despite it being a holiday because the people are afraid to get a little wet! 

Life in Italy - Day 1733 (2019) Outdoor markets in Campo de’ Fiori

Mercoledì 30 Ottobre 2019
I chose to work instead of having off today in order to have more vacation time in February/March. I got coffee at Roscioli and they were playing Elvis’ cover of the gospel song How Great Though Art. I wrote letter to my grandmother and took at least an hour long walk in town, thoroughly admiring and examining all the vegetables and fruits in Campo de’ Fiori piazza. I had usually considered it a tourist trap but I noticed it is Italian farmers who are selling this produce and each has hired a Bangladesh man as a helping hand. The produce is good: sweet potatoes, pumpkins, thyme, sage, rosemary, chicory, arugula, kale, eggplants, all shapes and sizes of tomatoes, and savoy cabbage. 
Then I wandered on Via del Pellegrino (street of the Pilgrim) and turned onto Via Monserrato where I entered the Spanish church of Santiago in Via Monserrato where I always experience God’s presence. 
Then I walked a long sunny walk through the Jewish ghetto and into the Ostiense neighborhood reading Psalm 34 to then get a gooey caramel drenched pudding from Marigold and some toasted sourdough bread. Ahh I am spoiling myself. 
I served a fantastically friendly gay couple who are 82 years old, one who lived in all the great cities of the world working for city Bank: from Paris, to Genevre, to Los Angeles and now Pa Springs. They heard me talk about life walking daily with Jesus while talking with the table next to them. It was a mother son duo from Dayton Ohio who moved here to Rome to work for Campus Crusade for Christ. I served an older couple from Germany who were adorable in their eye contact and hardly spoke English and definitely not Italian. They taught me two sentences in German. I served two different families from Nancy France and funny teens with their parents from Seattle Washington. I served two humorous couples from Darby England, and a couple on a date whose male part is German and female part is from the Domenican Republic!!! That German spoke perfect Spanish. I served a mom and daughter duo from Sinatra Portugal, a place they highly recommend every visit. 
After work I for a drink at Baccano and got to know two barmen there who are Romans and extremely nice to talk to!! They are highly skilled at making drinks, as this place is known for. I chose a whiskey sour cuz I like sour. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Life in Italy - Day 1732 (2019) - Succulent Breakfast at Marigold

Martedì 29 Ottobre 2019
I slept really well thank God! Then I read some scriptures in French and crossed my favorite bridge (Ponte Sisto). My bassist friend Christian was about to play with his trio and stopped to talk to me about big cities, living alone and how it is hard to comfort yourself when you’re sick it mom’s not around and you see your siblings only once a month. It is comforting to me that a man who is responsible can admit these things!! 
Then I got TWO cappuccini, not one, at Roscioli. Since they have wifi, I stayed and read the history of the island Ponza, because I so desire to learn!! 
While walking toward my breakfast spot nearly an hour away, I noticed Piazza delle Cinque Scole near the Hebrew ghetto that is really attractive with the pink stucco and a pink dome of its church which seems to be a hectagon shape. 
Marigold is the coffee shop where I then ate their delicious rye bread topped with avocado, poached egg and herbs. It was literal perfection of flavor heaven for my tastebuds. Then I ordered their tortellini pasta filled with highest quality meat in a broth. I don’t like pasta in broth but it can be comforting on fall or winter days. I followed it by their famous cinnamon roll which is delicious. Being there filled me with indescribable joy when a little two year old Italian boy blew me kisses continually and played hide and go seek with me. 
I was exhausted for work and could barely keep my eyes open for the shift. There was a very weird and negative vibe from at least three customers: gawking with their eyes, being distrustful, judgmental, angry, displeased, and complaining. This rarely to never happens, so that indicates it is a spiritual thing going on in the atmosphere. The good interactions were with a family of four from Munich Germany, two couples from Sevilla Spain, two hilarious from Grenada Spain who told me I MUST go there because her tiny alleys are similar to Rome as are her outdoor cafes and culture (I was supposed to go there last February but I chose France instead which was not the right choice). I served two females who are colleagues in Rome, two nice ladies from Denmark, two fantastic and dynamic couples from the Czech Republic who stayed the majority of the shift, talking and laughing, a girl named Shenisse from Texas who is a Christian. She said she is going through a rough time so I prayed with her and the Holy Spirit was tangibly with us! I also served a neat couple who just started retirement and have been driving for two months around France and Italy having a blast. I admire them so much!!! During my work shift, a friend named Francesco came by and talked to me for a while which brought me joy. He also asked me out!!!! 
After work, I ran into my friend Sandro and spoke to him a few minutes on the street. I like running into people I know by chance in such a big city. 



Life in Italy - Day 1731 (2019)

Lunedì 28 Ottobre 2019



I slept in until 10:30 and then went to get the best coffee at Roscioli!!! Strong and bold taste! I was supposed to me up with an acquaintance today but I called and cancelled last night because I WANT TO BE ALONE. Since I have to be on and social at work, I like to spend the whole day before work ALONE. I love this time. It is sacred to me and I usually only share it with my close friend Francesca every other week or three weeks. I went walking in the sun, which is always what I want to do. I went through Via dei Pettinari, under the arch, into Campo de’ Fuori and got piazza marina from Forno Campo de’ Fiori, up through Piazza Navona and all the way to the Piazza del Popoli where I sat and read a Psychology book on Le Cinque Ferite (the Five Wounds our soul suffers from). After two hours in the bright sun, I got a burger with cheddar and bacon on it from Vivo Bio. 
I came to work tired, so tired that I had to eat dark chocolate to stay strong. Then when I start serving people adrenaline kicks in. My female colleague called me “my darling” throughout the shift and joked with me as she always does when not nervous/angry about something. After work, she did something extra different. She opened up and said she is all alone in her life here in Italy and blocks herself from accomplishing things that were being her joy. She opened up about the last 13 years of her life and how she suffered injustice and how people close to her gave her fault where she wasn’t at fault and how this has made her shut off and close down and not trust anyone. This explains a lot of what goes on inside of her and I pray I never ever forget it so I can have compassion when she gives me fault when I am not at fault. As they say, we usually hurt people the same exact way as we ourselves have been hurt. We stayed outside talking until 12:40 am when it got Cooooooold!!! 
The shift was full of French families and couples. I asked most of them to teach me new words!! I served a couple on their honeymoon from Los Angeles who are originally from Mexico, a couple from Croatia who were a joy, a Jewish couple from Cleveland Ohio celebrating their birthday, a family of blond kids from Sweden, two men from Vincenzo who were full of personality and thought I was married (it’s better if they think that, I assure you), a fun couple from Madrid, three humorous flight attendants from KLM who did not know each other before they landed in a ROME and are touring the city together. The French were three ladies from Nantes, a family from Paris who adopted an African girl who was so cute she made drawings throughout dinner and spoke to me with her cute little French voice, and a family with two girls for Annecy France!!!! I loved these interactions so much! The words they taught me are the following but they are probably spelling wrong because I cannot read their handwriting ahahahahah!
Le liene, les planted grimpantes- climbing plants
Pes petites immcubles, maisons - shorter homes
Grosses lettres en Latin- tall letters in Latin. Lettres Majuscules, lettres minuscules.
Ce n’est pas pressé ; Il n’ya pas d’urgence- there’s no rush!
M’avez aidée- you’ve helped me
My friend Sandro passed by during my shift to say “hi” and this was a refreshing thing!